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Potting? Bigger Is Better

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Published:   |   Updated: March 23, 2013 at 01:24 AM

On days when my plants are looking drab, I depend on colorful pots to add some visual pop to the garden.

But it isn't all about the pretty for me; there's a practical side to container gardening, too. When I get bored and want to change things up, I can just move the pots around. And they're easy to bring inside when it gets cold. I've noticed lately, though, that most of my containers are way too small for outdoor plants. They were meant to sit on a sunny kitchen windowsill - or maybe a small balcony. I have them scattered all over the place in a decent-sized backyard.

The problem is that my happy, healthy Florida plants are almost immediately too big for the pots I put them in. So they get pot-bound or they just never live up to their full potential.

I know better, of course, it's just that my desire for a lovely new pot often leads to temporary inanity. (The containers aren't the only things in my garden that are ridiculously shallow.) To purchase the pot in the size I really need is w-a-a-ay too expensive, so I go for the size I can afford.

I recently acquired two cute cups - one lime green, one aqua - that are a wee bit smaller than a teacup. Never did I give a thought to what I would put in there when I was eyeing them at the garden store.

I crammed a jade plant into one awhile back, then finally rescued it last weekend. It was, after all, a bit like asking Dolly Parton to slip into Ellen Page's tube top.

Yeah. Ouch.

So I'm changing my ways. Bigger is better - as long as it's cheap. And with the lightweight faux pots they sell nowadays, you can get big for a bargain.

Of course, it isn't wise to put a small plant in a pot that's too big, either. Sometimes it works, but there's a chance the plant will work very hard to fill the pot and do all of its growing underground. Giant roots, little foliage.

I'm risking this very thing with a new Red Star cordyline I picked up at Lowe's. It's probably too small for the very deep pot I put it in, but I have a "look" in mind.

I may just be trading one troubling trend for another. To stick with the metaphor, I'm asking Calista Flockhart to fill J. Lo's jeans.

It looks a little pathetic now, but it will be gorgeous if all goes well.

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